Back in 1999, when "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace" came out, the hype for Palpatine was so palpable you could cut it with a knife. While the hype for "The Force Awakens" has seemed somewhat more subdued, the excitement among the loyal fan base is unprecedented. People are anticipating once more visiting the Star Wars universe, and asking themselves yet again, will the film deliver?
The answer to that is a definitive yes. For anyone who was a child when they saw any of the other Star Wars films, and for anyone who felt that sense of wonder with the original trilogy or the prequels, "The Force Awakens" delivers. You will feel like that kid again, enjoying a story set in a universe of limitless possibilities.
And if somehow you never managed to see any of the other Star Wars movies, "The Force Awakens" serves as an introduction to a world you will want to visit again and again. If you are familiar with Star Wars already, it will be like coming home; but if you are not, it will be like discovering what your home actually was all along.
(For those of you asking yourselves how I am managing to post this review on the Sunday before its US release, when it hasn't even been screened for professional film critics yet, read the review again and ask yourself that question again.)
(Edited to Add: I may have been too subtle. There is nothing in this review that requires me to have seen the film already. That is, as long as I have faith that I will feel like a kid again. And frankly, that's how Episode I made me feel, even if I did realize in retrospect that it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be.)